Mary had lived ninety-nine years so far, in three days she would be one hundred. Though her hair had greyed and she had the faintest trace of whiskers on her chin, her eyes were still full of life, full of youthful vigor; if you asked her, she did not feel a day over twenty-five.
As she was sitting on the couch, reading her favorite novel, the phone rang; she reached across the armrest and onto the table beside her to pick up the phone; upon pressing the talk button, her son Peter greeted her warmly, " Hello mom, are you excited for Thursday?"
She had no idea what he could mean, "Of course, Peter, but I do not want anything showy or flashy, your presence is enough for me."
Now, Peter was her eldest, but he was also the most creative. He was always prone to make a big ordeal for her birthday, why just last year he arranged for a whole circus to fill her street in honor of her special day. Her street had been filled with fire jugglers, acrobats, tigers, a very strong man, and he had a funnel cake made that was ten feet in diameter. She could never tell what he would do next, but she knew she would enjoy it.
When he heard this, he smiled and as he responded Mary could hear the smirk in his voice, "Alright mom, I promise nothing showy or flashy this year for your birthday." The two spent a few more minutes catching up and said their goodbyes, Mary could not help feeling a flash of excitement; like that of a child on Christmas morning. She went about the next three days as normal and waited for Peter to arrive Thursday.
Unbeknownst to her, for the last six months Peter had been planning the biggest hoopla he could imagine. He had called both the immediate and extended family to come to her house on Thursday at Five in the afternoon, had a candle maker craft a three foot tall green candle in the shape of the number one hundred, and had made her a wooden rocking chair like the one she had as a girl.
Wednesday night he rang Paul, his younger brother, “ Hey Paul, Thursday I need you to pick mom up at ten in the morning, so that I may prepare the house for the party. I already called the ice cream store and they are making her a gallon of butterscotch toffee ice cream.”
Paul responded, “ Awesome, I called the florist and they have made a beautiful bouquet of violet, red, blue, and white tulips. Also, the horse driven carriage has been arranged to arrive at the house at nine-thirty, so we will be out and about long enough for you to do your thing.”
Paul understood his brother’s creative nature, he understood that, like any artist, his brother needed space to create his masterpiece. Peter was grateful his family understood this and worked with him to give him the space he needed to create his masterpiece.
Thursday morning came around, Paul left his home early, telling his wife, “ Honey, I will see you at five remember that we are all supposed to wear the shirts Peter designed. I already let the kids know to not give you any lip about it either. See you later, my dear.” With that he kissed wife goodbye and hurried out the door. He arrived early enough to prepare his mom breakfast, a simple omelette and a few slices of bacon. He could see the excitement in her eyes and could help feel a little giddy himself.
At nine-thirty promptly, there came a knock at the door, Mary thinking it was Peter and Paul’s family went to answer it; as she opened the red oak door, a man in a billfold tuxedo greeted her, “ Good morning madam, your carriage awaits.”
She was shocked, and a smile lit up her face, tears of joy welled into her eyes, “Oh my.”
That was all she could muster to speak, Paul came to the door and helped Mary into the carriage, before sitting Mary noticed the bouquet that was placed in her seat; she picked it up, immediately noticing all her favorite flowers in one bouquet. As they began the days journey, Mary felt like a queen going out to see how the other side lived, she was taken aback with joy and filled with a feeling of love for her children.
Meanwhile, Peter had picked up the candle Wednesday, grabbed all the decorations from the hobby store, and his wife had made the most delectable swiss chocolate cake. Peter’s family headed over to Mary’s at ten; when they arrived, his wife and children set to work on the other areas of the house, leaving Peter to his work in the living room. He set up the candle by the fireplace, placed the rocking chair centered in front of the candle and began his work with the decorations. He set streamers in the shape of a spiral around the ceiling, filled the front half of the room with balloons, and cleared a space for everyone to stand when his mom returned.
His wife set up the dining room with the grace and poise of a seasoned caterer, the table was adorned in a beautiful ivory cloth, the cake placed in the center, and on either side of the cake were placed to large punch bowls; one bowl was filled with a vibrant red fruit punch and the other a brilliant blueberry lemonade. All was set and the family had started to trickle in, Peter turned on the record player, placed the record with her wedding song onto the record player, and dimmed the lights.
As the last member of the family trickled in, Mary and Paul arrived back from their adventure of the day. Mary’s face beamed with the joy of a child, Paul helped her out of the carriage, and grabbed the ice cream and flowers from the carriage. He let Mary lead the way back towards the house; now, she was no fool, she could feel that her sons had planned something else for the day, for despite the extravagance, this was nothing compared to what Peter had done the previous year. She carefully opened the door, where to her surprise Peter was standing; not wanting to frighten her too much he guided her to the living room where the family was waiting, his wife had lit the candle upon hearing their footsteps heading towards her.
When Mary walked into the living room, her breath was taken away, she had to pinch herself to make sure she was not dreaming. The candle cast a soft golden hue around the room, illuminating her loved ones waiting on the other side of the room, in the background she heard the song of her wedding day, and as soon as she stepped into the room everyone broke out with mirth and cheer to sing her the birthday song. At the end of the song, Peter took her over to the candle and with one breath she blew out the enormous candle, it was then she noticed the rocking chair and at that moment tears of joy streamed down her face; she could not have imagined a better way to celebrate her one hundredth birthday.